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Ecommerce Checkout: What is Search Relevance? (+6 Ways to Improve Cart Cross-sells)

Imagine a world without search engines. 

A world where finding information on products would be difficult.

It’s hard to wrap your head around it, isn’t it? 

That’s how buyers on your site sometimes feel. Especially when they get irrelevant options during eCommerce check out. 

Your eCommerce checkout process has an impact on your site’s conversion rate. 

Are you curious about search relevance as well? 

Well, read on. 

Relevance in Ecommerce—What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Ecommerce relevance involves allowing a buyer to find what they need to fulfill a specific intent at a particular time and in a given context—even when the buyer isn’t sure about what they’re looking for.

Therefore a relevant experience seamlessly leads a shopper to what they need. 

This experience should be similar to interacting with a knowledgeable and intuitive salesperson. 

Speaking to the right sales gives shoppers a feeling of ease and confidence. 

Achieving relevance in eCommerce could mean the difference between…

…Buy or Bounce

…Add to Cart or Abandon Cart

…Include more or check-out now.

The dilemma? 

As an eCommerce business, this requires endless experimental options based on probability.

So what’s the solution? 

Let’s explore whether technology can help. 

Relevance in Ecommerce—Does Technology Help? 

The short answer is yes. 

But exactly what role does technology play in eCommerce relevance?

AI-Powered tools are the key. 

You can use search, recommendation, and personalization technologies to inject relevance into every interaction you have with your customers. 

The result? 

Your shoppers find what they need—faster. 

These technologies all play a role in providing a relevant experience and capturing behavioral data that improves the relevance of the experience. 

Input in the search box influences recommendations. These two elements then inform the personalization of product rankings. 

All these elements have an impact on the relevance of cross-sells.


Let’s find out. 

Ecommerce CheckOut—What’s The Impact of Irrelevant Cross-sells? 

Irrelevant cross-sells negatively affect buyer confidence. 

Imagine buying a book and then being offered a raincoat as a cross-sell. 

And it’s summer. 

Isn’t that ridiculous? 

Buyers lose confidence when they see that the other items suggested aren’t related at all to the item in their cart.

Users now expect a highly personalized online shopping experience tailored to their needs and preferences. 


Recommending highly relevant items to the products just added to the cart is considered by users as “great service” instead of a push to sell them more products. 

Relevant items may include such compatible accessories necessary to install or use the items already in the cart. 

However, product recommendations and promotional offers that don’t clearly relate to the cart contents are viewed as annoying or simply ignored by users.

Suggesting products unrelated to the cart contents erodes a user’s confidence in the site and its recommendations — even the relevant ones.

How to improve cross-sells at check out with better product recommendations
DSW, a North American footwear retailer, fails to surface the most obvious product recommendation at check out for rain boots: socks.

Ecommerce Check Out—6 Ways to Improve Relevance of Cross-sells in The Cart

What is a shopper’s state of mind during checkout? 

At this point in the shopping process, the user isn’t in nearly the same degree of “product exploration” mindset.

Therefore, having a high relevance of the product suggestions and offers displayed in the cart or “Added to Cart” confirmation is critical. 

So how can eCommerce stores ensure that cross-sells are relevant and meaningful to users? 

Let’s find out. 

#1. Avoid Listing a Fixed Amount of Product Suggestions

Most product recommendation sections have a set number of item suggestions and are therefore more likely to include irrelevant or only partially relevant items.

On the other hand, if there is only one genuinely suitable product that complements a purchase, it’s likely to get more attention if it stands by itself

Display a dynamic number of suggestions, depending on how many “high relevance” items the recommendation logic can identify.

Recommending only the most relevant items boosts the product suggestions’ perceived credibility while increasing users’ awareness of available compatible items.

#2. Apply Caution When Listing Alternative Products

Listing alternative products may prove to be a distraction to shoppers and cause more harm than good. 

A user may pursue an alternative product shown to them and never return to the checkout process. 

The result? 

A lost sale. 

Why product recommendations at check out on Amazon are ineffective.
Amazon is notorious for suggesting alternatives at checkout. Instead of showing complimentary items, it provides sponsored products of the same product type.

Therefore, product suggestions that complement the item(s) in the cart should generally take precedence over alternative product suggestions.

However, sometimes it’s appropriate to list alternative product suggestions such as product upgrades or newer versions of the same products. 

#3. Provide Clear Labels That Define the Context to the User

Clearly labeling recommended products in the cart increases the accuracy of the user’s interpretation of the suggestions.

If a user understands the context of a product recommendation, they are unlikely to be dismissive when shown items that appear irrelevant to their current order.

For example: 

Consider using labels like “Inspired by Your Previous History” for recommendations based on previously viewed items or “Frequently Bought Together” for supplementary cross-sells based on other users’ purchasing patterns.

#4. Prioritize Products With the Same Theme

Giving priority to products of the same theme can prevent seemingly unrelated items from being displayed.

For example:

If the shopper is looking for a summer dress, having a cross-sell section for “More Summer Essentials” would show users that the product suggestions are thematic. 

Improving average order value at check-out by showing similar items.
Nordstrom, an upscale American retailer, only shows relevant and on theme products in the shopping cart.

#5. Give Priority to Compatibility-Dependent Items

Product suggestions with a direct compatibility relationship, such as accessories or tools needed to make the product in the cart function, are considered by users as most relevant. 

These product suggestions are similar to a sales associate recommending specific customers buy a particular cable with their TV. 

#6. Consider the User’s Context When Promoting Special Offers

Users are easily irritated by illogical promotional offers in the cart, leading to frustration. 

For example, it doesn’t make sense to apply for a credit card to get 10% off on a $5 order. 

Introduce low-level logic for when to present certain promotions like credit card offers and free shipping tiers.


By showing the offers only after users reach a meaningful order level.

Leverage AI to Boost Cross-sells

Relevance is crucial to an effective and revenue-driving product bundling strategy

What’s more? 

Leveraging AI can support cross-sells, increase your AOV while easing your checkout process.

Relevant cross-sells in the cart are a significant element of improving your AOV (Average Order Value). 

Product recommendation tools can be beneficial when it comes to relevance. 

Partner with Zoovu today and discover how. 


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Enda Ndungu is a certified content marketer and Direct Response Copywriter. She is passionate about creating content that moves minds and grows businesses. She is also a personal development enthusiast. Off-the-clock, Enda enjoys fiddling in the creative arts, exploring nature and on-screen dramas.